The disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer in 2011 sent shockwaves across many college campuses in America. Authorities said the 20-year-old vanished after spending the early morning partying at a downtown bar in Bloomington, Ind. She was last seen walking alone outside a classmate’s off-campus apartment around 4:30 a.m. on June 3, 2011.

It sparked a national manhunt, prompting several celebrities—including comedian Stephen Colbert and reality star Kim Kardashian—to spread awareness about the young woman’s disappearance on social media. But nine years later, investigators have still been unable to locate her, and many tips have led to dead ends. “It’s a difficult case from every angle,” said private investigator Michael Ciravolo, who was hired by Spierer’s family in 2011.

Lauren Spierer vanished June 3rd 2011.

“Everything that could make it tougher has popped up in front of us,” Ciravolo told TIME.

Among the many roadblocks Ciravolo said his team faced was a lack of cooperation from the local police department and a group of young men who Spierer spent most of her time with the day she disappeared. Ciravolo said private investigators are still following up on major leads as they surface, but they have not seen significant progress. At this point, he said, there are no signs indicating that Spierer is still alive. Still, the bleak prognosis doesn’t change how much he and Spierer’s parents want to know the truth of what happened to her.

“I’m never going to give up,” Ciravolo said. “I feel like I’m looking for a family member. It’s become very, very personal and close to my heart. I just wish I could give them closure.”

Meanwhile, Spierer’s parents yearn for their daughter, who they said loved to play lacrosse and celebrate Valentine’s Day. On what would have been Spierer’s 28th birthday last January, her mother Charlene penned a heartfelt message to her daughter on Facebook, just as she does every year on the same day. “I miss you with every breath,” she wrote.

Leave a Reply